25 March, 2011

What I Watched Last Month…

Or rather, What I Watched in January…

January 2011

Whip It! (on DVD)
Although the rest of the family loved it, I found Whip It! to be far too predictable and by the numbers. It was trite in places and sickly sweet in others. I'm a regular at the Horden Pavilion roller derby bouts here in Sydney, so I think I had kind of high hopes for the action scenes as well, which were also not as exciting as I'd hoped.
That being said, I'm glad I watched it. It was funny in parts and had some likeable characters.

Tron: Legacy (on the big screen)
I find it really surprising how much people are loving this! There's very little chance that I will ever watch this movie again, and yet I hear that people have seen it twice or thrice! I'll admit that one of my bigger problems with it is that I can't get past my inability to suspend disbelief regarding the society of The Grid. Stuff like the necessity for the likes of The End of the Line Club for "programs". And don't tell me it's because they're a form of life now, because the morality of "the sanctity of life" is flip-flopped all over during this story: are we supposed to care for the incidental characters because they're alive, or not worry about them because they're simply code that can be destroyed without a care? I certainly found it hard to care.
Regardless of that though, I found too much of the movie boring and slow. I was astounded that, despite the fact that it's mostly pretty nice to look at, it was understated design-wise to the point of being lacklustre.
Give me disc battles and light cycles in spectacular, clear, satisfying battle! The stuff we've been imagining it could look like since the original! These were unfortunately disappointing too.
Lastly, although I'll give the movie-makers credit for the balls it took to do it, I was not convinced by the digital young Flynn/Clu from the moment he hit the screen. Even from behind! My wife was totally convinced throughout, but my two kids (13 and 15) were a little suspicious all the way through and were pretty sure it was a digital construct by the end.
I didn’t see Tron when it first came out and I was very disappointed when I watched it on DVD a couple of months ago, and I was disappointed in a very similar way with Tron 2.

Toy Story 3 (on DVD)
This is the second time I've seen Toy Story 3, the first being in the cinema. My feelings on it haven't really changed I think. The animation is amazing. Really amazing. The emotion delivered by some of the characters at times is astounding and truly touching. In the end though, I found it disappointing. It was far too repetitive (some might more kindly say reminiscent) of Toy Story 1 and 2, both in themes and action. In the end, I also found it inconclusive and, for me, lacking in definite closure, in itself but mostly for the trilogy.
One very interesting aspect of it is that I think it's been aimed squarely at a much older kid; the kid that had Toy Story 1 as one of their first movies and has grown up with the characters. My son, 15, is that audience, and reacted in such an emotional way, as did many if his male (interestingly not the female) peers, as to prove that to me in no small manner. Additionally there are some harrowing scenes in this movie that go way beyond the delightfully scary and/or anxious scenes in, for example, TS1's Woody and Buzz encountering Sid and his toys. It's not a bad thing, and in TS3 it was a highly emotional sequence, but I'm sure it may have been too much for some of the real littlies.
No doubt though that I'll be watching it again at some stage.

Tangled (on the big screen)
I thought this was a very good movie and I really enjoyed it. Most of my problems with it would probably be seen as nit-picking (rubbery skin textures, what seemed to be overly rotoscoped animation, too many musical numbers, crappy and unnecessary animal sidekick). All except for the incredibly disappointing deus ex machina that really came out of nowhere at the climax of the movie. If you've seen the movie I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, if you haven't I don't want to spoil it for you. Even while watching it happen I couldn't believe that the writers pulled something so inexplicable out of left field. It would have been such a better film if Disney had the bravery of their hero and had decided to forego the expected happy ending for something more powerful. I understand that that's a little too much to expect from Disney though. No one else in my family seemed too bothered by it.
It's definitely worth seeing this movie. It's got laughs, beautiful colour, good action, good voice and animated acting, and is very well put together. I'd certainly watch it again.

Despicable Me (at an outdoor cinema)
Brilliant fun! This is the second time I've seen this, and even with the distractions of being in an outdoor cinema, it was completely engaging and very funny. Great acting, good animation, fun (if a tiny bit predictable) story, that doesn't take itself in the least too seriously.

Black Swan (on the big screen)
Great movie! A tense, claustrophobic, gripping, psychological drama/thriller. It was a brilliant move to present the Jeckle/Hyde role of The White and Black Swans of Swan Lake to the main character's fragile mental and emotional state. What a harrowing spectacle watching this descent and dissection of an obsessive creative. Interesting subtle use of CGI too.

Lost Season 6 (on DVD)
About this last season of Lost I've often said, having watched this show since the very first night it screened here in Australia, that whatever it is they could come up with for the finale, there was no way that it could live up to six years' worth of build up. No way.
Well, on this second, quite rapid viewing of the final season, I must say it may have.
I often like to look at Lost this way: it's not about getting answers, but enjoying the questions, and enjoying the posing of the questions. Lost did this brilliantly and I enjoyed it immensely. This last season didn't answer all the questions that were still open, but it answered enough to not have the viewer feel ripped off, while still also posing enough new questions (and leaving a portion of those still mysteries) that it continued to have the Lost feel.
It was by no means perfect. I feel they very much fumbled the ball when it came to Desmond's true significance, role and purpose on the island in the last days. Similarly, the revelation and meaning of the island's light was very muddy and confusing, even as it was seemingly laid out in front of us. And there was a touch more than usual of the flip-flopping of characters' allegiances and motivations. Too much this time.
The final, double-length episode, for someone who has spent the last six years with these characters, was quite emotional to watch. The conceit of the "flash sideways" for this season was spot-on as far as I'm concerned, and the revelation of what that all meant was also wonderful.
This season had enough closure to feel like you'd watched a complete (six season long) story, with enough open ends to make you wish there was a way to know what happened next. My favourite TV show ever.

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